Study Circles Facilitation Competencies and Assessment, Case Study at Montgomery County Public School (MCPS)Study Circles Program
The Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) Study Circles program is specifically organized to bring a group of parents and teachers/staff from different racial/ethnic backgrounds into one dialogue aiming to remove the racial/ethnic barriers to students’ achievements. The role of the facilitators is to lead this dialogue for six 2 - hour sessions, where in the final session the group must come up with action steps. This study investigates how the MCPS Study Circles program determines whether their facilitators have adequate facilitation competencies. Using qualitative surveys and interviews with experts in dialogue, this research examines these facilitation competencies and how to assess them. These competencies are then critically analyzed according to the three components of competencies, cognitive, affective, and skills. The results indicated that effective facilitators must: 1) have basic knowledge and understanding about race and culture; 2) be caring, empathy, encouraging, and have a strong self-awareness; 3) be able to demonstrate neutrality, to be flexible, to guide the group process and to manage time. To assess the competencies, the simplest technique that can be used is a self-assessment survey based on the identified standard competencies and observation. This research may be applicable to formal and informal organizations that plan to host Study Circles, particularly on racial/ethnic issues. This study may also be useful for trainers who are involved in recruiting, designing and delivering the facilitator training, and individuals who have an interest in facilitating intergroup and interracial dialogues.